The evidence is overwhelming that Russia had a huge thumb on the scale for Donald Trump during the 2016 election. And apparently there were concerns as far up as the West Wing that we may be in for a repeat in 2020–but apparently acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney doesn’t want Trump to know that. And yet, there are some who believe that we’re idiots for wanting to sound the alarm. That comes as no surprise. What comes as a surprise, though, is this tone-deaf sentiment isn’t just on the far right, but on the far left.
On Friday, the political world’s collective eyebrows hiked into its collective hairlines when word got out that Trump had spent around an hour on the phone with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. They discussed a number of topics, including Robert Mueller’s investigation. However, Trump did not call out Putin for his interference in the 2016 election.
When former FBI counterintelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi heard this, he hit the ceiling. Later that night, he told MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who was sitting in for Lawrence O’Donnell on “The Last Word,” that Trump was essentially giving the Kremlin carte blanche to interfere in 2020. Watch here.
Figliuzzi didn’t understand how Trump could spend so much time on the phone with Putin and not call out the hacking “in a very firm way” and threaten him with sanctions. It led him to conclude that he was actually okay with the hacking.
Silence is assent. If you’re not bringing it up with Putin, you’re essentially giving him the green light.
Now who could have a problem with that assessment? Well, apparently far-left blogger Caitlin Johnstone has a problem with it. Hours after news broke about the call, Johnstone, a self-described “rogue journalist,” harrumphed that the fears about what this portends for 2020 are a lot of fuss over nothing.
Johnstone claimed that only “blithering idiots” believe that the Kremlin is up to no good for 2020. What is more, she claimed, with a straight face, that there is “not one single shred of evidence” that Russia interfered in the election. She also dismissed the Mueller report’s findings as mere “assertions.”
Um, Caitlin? What about the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did indeed hack the election–using, among other things, WikiLeaks and a massive bot army? Are you willing to dismiss that as mere “assertions” as well?
One has to wonder how Johnstone could be this dense. But consider her history. She believes that those asking questions about Russian interference sound like “neoliberalism-friendly establishment hack(s)” peddling “an establishment agenda.” Cliff Notes version–if you want to get to the bottom on what can charitably be described as an attack on the foundations of your democracy, you’re “blithering idiots.”
Believe it or not, that’s not the looniest thing Johnstone has said. She has no qualms about churning out conspiracy theories as merrily as a far-right blogger. She’s a loud and proud 9-11 truther, actively promoted the Seth Rich nonsense, and saw nothing wrong with asking about Pizzagate.
All things considered, someone sounds like a “blithering idiot” here. And it isn’t those who are rightly sounding the alarm about potential Kremlin funny business in 2020.
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